AWAI Member Susan Clark Turns Pro!
AWAI student Susan Clark lives in Hermosa Beach, California. She spends much of her time at the beach, reading, playing volleyball, biking, or hiking. She is truly "living the life." Today, she tells us how she was able to leave her job to pursue copywriting full time … and enjoy the freedom to pursue the hobbies and sports she enjoys so much.
TGT: Susan, what were you doing before you became a copywriter?
SC: I was a television news producer and writer for "KTLA News at 10" in Los Angeles. I also wrote scripts for a regional show spotlighting successful entrepreneurs. I love to write and have been writing in some capacity since I was little.
TGT: What attracted you to copywriting?
SC: There wasn't much depth – or enjoyment – in news writing. So I looked for other kinds of writing that might interest and stimulate me. I discovered AWAI on Valerie Young's "Changing Course" website. I was immediately attracted to the idea of being able to write from anywhere AND make money!
TGT: How is copywriting different from the type of writing you did before?
SC: TV news writing isn't very detail-oriented. You simply hit the story main points. Also, everything is supposed to be unbiased, so it's pretty dry and not personally rewarding. (Obviously, this isn't true for good copywriting.)
TGT: When and how did you get up the nerve to take the plunge?
SC: I quit my job at the end of October 2003. I had initially planned to finish out the year, but I had several copywriting opportunities and realized I couldn't do both full-time. So I figured it was time to quit. Now I work at KTLA a few days a month. The rest of the time, I focus on copywriting and ghostwriting. It's a good mix that keeps things fresh and interesting for me.
TGT: The perfect arrangement! Tell us about your first copywriting assignment.
SC: My first one was a spec assignment from the AWAI 2002 Bootcamp – a direct-mail package for VitalMax Vitamins selling their bladder supplement. I was thrilled when it was mailed. You can imagine my excitement when it became the control!
TGT: What other work are you doing?
SC: I'm writing for health and self-improvement/information products. I'm also helping some marketers develop their self-improvement/information products as well as ghostwriting a couple of self-improvement books.
TGT: What's your biggest challenge as a new freelancer?
SC: Initially, it was making sure I did everything as well as possible. I'm still trying to improve my skills and make my writing stronger. However, as I learn more about the business side of copywriting, my biggest challenge has been that part – setting fees, invoicing, agreements/contracts – and learning how to work with different marketers.
TGT: Since you're a "news junkie," do you have any regrets about quitting your job?
SC: Not for a second! The biggest drawback in news is that there's no such thing as a holiday. You have to fight for time off. I was extremely tired of that. I'm much happier being in charge of my own schedule and writing from home. Also, I'm significantly more creative with my writing now, and that's really fun.
TGT: Now that you have more flexibility, how do you see your life changing down the road?
SC: Iplan to live 8 months a year in California and spend the remaining months traveling, living, and working in places such as Europe and Central America. When I'm traveling, I'll write travel articles and stories as well.
TGT: Any advice for other copywriting students?
SC: Go to the AWAI Copywriting Bootcamp. Both of the bootcamps I attended were tremendous learning experiences. You get to mingle with the masters and pick their brains. You meet major marketers, learn from them, and establish relationships with them. Also, talking to other students about their starting-out experiences is incredibly helpful.
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